Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Donal Mahoney- Three Poems

One Big Whoop

All over the world
folks die every day
by the thousands
sometimes the millions 
what with wars
seiches and 

and so He’s busy
saying hello to those 
who have known 
He was there
or discovered Him
just before the end
often out of fear 

but can you imagine
those who thought
He wasn’t there? 
What a surprise!
One big whoop
for those folks.

Let’s be candid.
Death is bad enough.
But who wants
to find Him too late
glowing in the Light 
taller than His statue
in Rio de Janeiro
then see Him point,
then hear Him say,
“Please step 
over there.”

A Chance to Say Good-bye

After World War II 
before television, 
before women had tattoos
before men wore earrings, 
I was a child in a world
with kids as odd as me.
I’m still here but tell me
where are they?

Remember Joey Joey
who yelped in class 
every day before 
doctors knew the nature 
of his problem, his
barbaric yawps scaring girls 
and driving boys down 
on their desks laughing
until the day he disappeared.
I had no chance to say good-bye.

Can’t forget Petey, the toughest kid
in class, not quite right either.
He uppercut a girl in the third row 
and disappeared the same day.
So did Bobby, who my mother saw 
on his porch eating worms
one by one off a porcelain dish
as she was coming home from church 
under a parasol, stylish in that era.
She asked if Bobby and I were friends 
and I said, “Bobby Who?"
I had no chance to say good-bye. 

But Jimmy was the nonpareil
when it came to kids not right.
I saw him after graduation leap-frog 
parking meters like a kangaroo 
down 63rd Street for half a block
woofing as he cleared them
until the cops took him home.
I had no chance to say good-bye.

They locked Jimmy in the attic
of his parents’ house for years 
but at least he didn’t disappear.
Years later I saw him in a dark bar 
with his twin brother drinking beer. 
He sat quietly, not a single woof,
not a bar stool threatened by a leap.
There I had a chance to say good-bye.


When you get old
it’s nice to have all your marbles
even if you can’t count them

even if they look the same color
even if you can no longer hear them 
bounce off each other when your son

brings your grandson over
and he shoots marbles all over 
the house and they careen

like your thoughts this morning
as you try to recall where you put 
the marbles after the boy went home 

and you get down on your hands 
and knees and feel around and find them 
so when the boy comes over again

you can hand him the marble bag 
because your son just called 
and the boy will be here in an hour

laughing and shouting and wanting 
to shoot marbles all over the house
like heads rolling in Syria and Iraq.

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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